Basic life support (BLS) is the type of medical care provided by emergency medical teams and healthcare professionals to persons experiencing in hospital cardiac arrest, out of hospital cardiac arrest, or respiratory arrest, such as cases of choking and drowning. The procedures involved in Basic Life Support include relieving obstructed airways, CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation), and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). The elements of basic life support include circulation, airway, and breathing. Research places emphasis on providing chest compressions as the airway brings about delay, which might cost the victim’s life.
When following the procedure, the rescuer focuses first on maintaining the circulation of the victim to keep the victim alive as they await advanced life support or medical care.
Why is BLS training important?
Basic Life Support skills and training save lives as it takes care of critical medical emergencies such as cardiac arrest management. Without immediate and appropriate attention, out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims and the obstructed airways can lose their lives. Medical emergencies occur when least expected. The victim’s survival is dependent on whether there is a skilled professional to provide the necessary care. Whenever a person is not breathing, they are likely to die within a few minutes. However, with high-quality CPR, the rescuer can keep the victim alive for some time by maintaining blood circulation within the body, especially with vital organs.
BLS training helps in recognition of life-threatening emergencies and the appropriate treatment measures. The ability to provide a proper diagnosis allows the rescuer to take the appropriate action within the shortest time possible.
What are the skills taught under BLS Course?
The basic life support or bls training course covers the following:
- Starting the chain of survival as soon as possible.
- Performing high-quality chest compressions for victims of different ages.
- The location and use of AED.
- When and how to perform rescue breathing.
- How to work in rescue teams.
- First aid for choking victims.
The Chain of Survival
Early initiation of basic life support improves the chances of survival of cardiac arrest victims. The chain of survival includes early recognition of an ongoing medical emergency, early initiation of CPR by a trained bystander, early use of AED, and early advanced life support once the emergency medical team arrives.
Recognizing the symptoms of cardiac arrest
There are specific symptoms common to victims of in hospital cardiac and out of hospital cardiac arrest. For example, the victim might collapse and fall unconscious. However, they might experience light-headedness, chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing before this.
Early administration of CPR prior to the arrival of emergency medical team provides better chances of survival. The CPR procedure differs depending on age. The depth of chest compressions for infants, children, and adults varies. High-quality CPR is critical for the survival of the victim. High-quality CPR takes into account the following:
- 100 chest compressions per minute.
- Minimizing interruptions between the compressions unless using the AED or changing the responder.
- The depth of chest compressions recommended for adults is 2inches, while that of infants is 1.5inches.
- Allowing for a complete chest recoil between compressions.
- Interchanging of rescuer when fatigued.
- Taking precautions to avoid over-ventilation.
CPR for Adults and Infants
Under the BLS course, you learn the basic Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation skills to keep cardiac arrest victims alive as they await specialized help. CPR procedures for infants, children, and adults are different. It becomes critical to provide the correct procedure depending on the age of the patients. CPR ensures that the victim gets the necessary help to keep them alive.
Heart attack cases are on the rise due to a wide range of factors like lifestyle, increasing life challenges, and work trends. In and out of hospital cardiac arrest can strike without warning affecting perfectly healthy persons without known heart conditions. Whenever an individual suffers cardiac arrest, the heart cannot pump blood to vital organs in the body. It results in the victim getting collapse, becoming unconscious, and unresponsive. Some of the signs of cardiac arrest include:
- loss of consciousness
- chest discomfort
- shortness of breath
In most cases, cardiac arrest victims are not able to breathe. You might also notice them gasping for air. The earlier the victim receives CPR, the more likely they will survive. CPR helps in maintaining the circulation of blood to the vital organs.
The CPR procedure involves chest compression. It works by creating an artificial heartbeat for the victim. The quality of CPR given to a victim determines their survival and recovery. The pressure applied in the chest compressions differs depending on the victim’s age. Therefore, it is also important to allow complete chest recoil between compressions when CPR is provided. The Compressions should be at a rate of 100 compressions per minute. It is also important to minimize interruptions between compressions. For adults, each compression should be at least 5cm or 2inches deep, and a maximum of 2inches for children and infants.
Foreign Body Airway Obstruction (Choking)
Cases of choking are widespread, especially in children. The victim must be relieved of the obstruction. For severe obstruction, the victim has the following symptoms:
- Clutching the neck
- Little or no breathing
- Little or not coughing
- Unable to make talk or make a sound
- He or she might make a high pitched sound
- Bluish color on the lips and fingertips (cyanotic)
For cases of severe obstruction, apply abdominal thrusts, otherwise known as the Heimlich maneuver (for both children one year and older and adults). There are different ways of relieving victims of choking, and they vary depending on the age of the victim.
Choking in Adults
Stand behind the victim and wrap arms around them just below their rib cage. Without pressing on the lower sternum, place the side of your fist in the middle of the victim’s belly just above the navel. Hold the fist with your other hand and push it into the abdomen and upwards towards the chest. Continue performing the thrusts until the victim is relieved or regains consciousness. If you can see the object causing the obstruction, use your fingers to remove it.
If you cannot remove the object or the victim becomes unresponsive, begin CPR and continue until specialized help arrives.
Choking in Children and Infants
For infants less than a year old, do not attempt blind finger swift. Instead, call 911 for specialized help. Use back blows or chest thrusts to clear the obstruction. If the infant falls unconscious, start the basic life support procedure.
Automated External Defibrillator (AED)
The use of the AED (automated external defibrillator) is critical in saving the lives of cardiac arrest victims. The AED is easy to use, even for non-professionals persons. It works by delivering a shock to the victim’s heart to revive its function. The device is programmed in a way that it can diagnose a victim whose heart condition is in a shockable rhythm. Without the AED, it would be almost impossible to revive the cardiac arrest victims. Unfortunately, even though the AED is available in most public facilities, not many people are skilled or have the confidence to use the AED. Therefore, specific preventive measures apply despite the device being easy to use.
Rescuers should use mouth to mouth ventilation, bag mask ventilation, or mouth to mask ventilation until an advanced airway is in place. For adults, each 30 chest compressions should be followed by two rescue breaths (30:2), while for infants, 15 chest compressions alternate with two rescue breaths (15:2).
Mouth to mouth resuscitation
A pocket, bag mask, or any barrier device should always be given priority when doing mouth to mouth ventilation as it lowers the risks of transmitting infections. Mouth-to-mouth ventilation provides 17% oxygen which is usually expelled during normal breathing. This oxygen level is sufficient to keep the victim alive and maintain normal body functions.
When providing ventilation, avoid doing it too rapidly or forcing air too much into the airway as it might result in more complications if the air moves to the victim’s stomach.
In most cases, respiratory arrest precedes cardiac arrest. Therefore, if you can identify the signs of respiratory arrest, you are more likely to prevent the occurrence of out of hospital cardiac arrest. Wherever the victim has a pulse but no signs of breathing, start rescue breathing immediately. The procedure for rescue breathing:
Tilt the victim’s head slightly backward and open the airway.
For adults, pinch the nose and breath into the mouth at a rate of 10 to 12 breaths per minute. For infants and smaller children, cover both the mouth and nose with your mouth and breath in at that rate of 12 to 20 breaths per minute. Each breath should last for at least one second. Ensure the chest rises and falls with each breath. If the victim doesn’t regain consciousness, begin CPR immediately.
When to Stop; When not to start Resuscitation
Under normal circumstances, the resuscitation procedure should continue until the victim regains consciousness. There are, however, certain situations that prompt the rescuers to stop resuscitating the victim. Without Resuscitation, there is no hope for the survival of a cardiac arrest victim. The decision to stop resuscitating is not easy, and it depends on institutional policies and procedures. In some cases, especially in disasters, the health workers are overwhelmed with patients. They follow specific guidelines in deciding which patients to offer help or neglect, which are primarily dependent on the risk of death, age, and conditions of other patients around.
Frequently Asked Questions about Basic Life Support Training
How effective is bystander Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation?
Research has shown that bystander Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation improves the patient survival rate. In 2014, data showed that nearly 45 percent of cardiac arrest victims whose incidents occurred outside of a hospital survived when a bystander performed CPR.
How Frequently Does a BLS Certification Need to be Renewed?
A Basic Life Support certification needs to be renewed every two years. This may seem repetitive to some healthcare provider and professionals, but the recertification help ensures that you have the necessary knowledge base and that you are also informed about any changes in the American Heart Association guidelines.
What’s the difference between BLS and First Aid?
BLS or Basic Life Support is intended for healthcare providers, emergency medical technician, and other emergency responders. The procedures include more in-depth instruction and instructions for doing 2-person CPR.
Basic Life Support training is covered under Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation training programs. These programs are available online at an affordable cost. There are various advantages of taking basic life support classes online instead of in-person training. Online BLS courses provide the same level of skills at a fair price at your convenience. Basic life support certification is readily available on E-platforms at any given time and can be taken from anywhere. There are no limitations for BLS classes, making the course open to everyone interested. Whenever life-threatening emergencies occur, waiting for the EMS to arrive might cost you the life of a loved one without taking action.
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